Five Phases of Transformation in TCM

One of the reasons why I practice Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is that it always looks at horses, animals, people … in relation to their environment and also addresses cyclical changes in the environment and in nature that in a similar way can be found in our bodies and in the bodies of our animals.

A group of horses in autumn

The Five Phases of Transformation are an important concept in TCM. The theory of the five phases of transformation (or 5 element theory) is based on the idea that everything in the universe is the result of the movement and transformation of five basic elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water.

In Chinese philosophy, all phenomena can be explained with the 5 elements. They are the building blocks of everything that exists. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) this theory had an important impact on diagnosis, treatment, pathology and physiology. A complex system with control mechanisms and balances has developed which explains the state of health and illness.

In autumn we find ourselves in the “Metal” Element to which breathing and the meridians and organ systems Lung (Fei) and Large Intestine (Da Chang) relate. It is a time when everything withdraws in order to prepare for the conservative energy of winter. Similar to trees dropping their leaves, it is a time to let go. The horse’s body has to adjust from summer warmth to the colder season with fewer hours of sunshine, rain, wind, fog, etc. A body that is strong in the Metal Element has a good defense system to keep diseases at bay. In order to support the immune system, we strengthen the Lung and Large Intestine and select acupressure points on the Lung and Large Intestine meridians in order to be well prepared for the transition to winter time (Element “Water”).